Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Nigerian, a Romanian, some Americans/Australian and the Black Sea

It is warming up here in Constanta, I have the gnarliest tan lines of my life currently and no Mom I do not put sun screen on. I am not even sure where to begin with this week. It was awesome, my weeks are always awesome, days are hard sometimes but the week always seems to end pretty smoothly this is definitely a blessing from Heavenly Father.
We have been working out outside in the morning and it has actually proved to be pretty good contacting. We have talked to two awesome ladies both of them have been super sweet and super welcoming. On monday morning we said hello to a lady who stopped and was looking at our name tags. She asked what we were doing here and we told her we are to talk about Christ and to offer to service. She instantly started calling us her girls and just telling us how great we were and then she invited us to come to a meeting at her church at first I was like "we'll see I'm not sure" but then Sora Trebas was like "da we'll come" and I was like well okay we are going to a baptist church. So she picked us up on Friday night in her car (I haven't been in a car for months) and we went to a baptist service. It was super interesting we asked her if we could leave our tags on and she was like yes of course you are with Christ so we left them on and everyone at the service just loved us it was quite a confidence builder everyone told us how beautiful we were and how well we spoke Romanian it was awesome. Then we had her drop us off at the church and we invited her to come inside and take a look. She did and she took every single pamphlet we had to offer her as well as a Liahona (a church magazine in Romanian) Then she took us back to her apartment which was way nice and fed us ice cream. It was the randomest Friday night I have ever had, baptist slujba and ice cream oh yeah and to add to all of that she was showing us all these trees she was growing in a little green house balcony thing and she pulls off the lid of this box and inside are like 11 baby chicks! It was hilarious we were all just so stunned by the entire night. Anyway, we are planning on going back to the baptist church and baptizing everything single one of them so pray for the baptists of Romania. It was super cool to see the service though just because there were so many people there and they were not orthodox. It reminded us that there are people here who want more out of religion and who are willing to go against the norm here in Romania. So yeah I have found myself my Romanian grandma.
Okay another funny thing that happened this week Sora Trebas and Sora Anderson thought it would be funny to tap dance last night. The lady below us did not think it was very funny and she came up and told us how not funny she thought it was. All the sudden we just heard banging at the door and everyone else was too scared to answer so I answered it and she just yelled at me for about 6 minutes. I kinda thought it was funny so I just said "sorry sorry it won't happen again they were dancing sorry"  and then she told us she was going to call the police and I got kinda fired up because that is ridiculous so fro the rest of the night I may have made sure to give her a good couple of thumps ev ery now and then.

Now for the main event! MERCY GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!! I cannot describe the happiness and joy that we all experienced on that day. All the soras bought African shirts to help her feel a little more at home. She was SO happy. The day before the baptism we had a lesson with her. Sora Sayre was on an exchange with Sora Trebas so we invited them to be apart of it. At the end of the lesson we asked Mercy to bear her testimony and it was literally one of the tenderest moments of my mission. The spirit testified through her not to her. I can see now that she is truly converted. She bore testimony of the Book of Mormon (which has been a LONG time in coming) she bore testimony of eternal families and the knowledge that she has that she will be with her family FOREVER. She also thanked us for being with her through it all for not giving up on her even when she was persuaded to not be baptized the first time. As she spoke we could feel her testimony, her love for this gospel, her trust in the Lord, and her gratitude for the plan that He has for her. It was an incredible thing to feel especially after all that we have been though with Mercy. Then the day of the baptism we did it in the Black Sea. We warned Mercy that would probably be people on the beach and she said "This is me showing my desire to follow Christ I want the whole world to see it" So we did it right there on the beach there was actually a paddle boarder like 20 feet away when they did the ordinance so that was funny. It was just a day of joy. That is really all I can say, everyone was smiling I do not think a smile left Mercy's face. The branch was overjoyed, they all love her so much. The members of this branch are literally the most open minded Romanians in this country. That is why this branch is growing so rapidly.We will have a chapel here soon as long as our incredible members continue to sacrifice and be obedient. I love these people so much. They are the most incredible examples to me. Mercy bore her testimony again in Sacrament meeting and gave the closing prayer. She has such an incredible journey ahead of her. We are going to start doing family history with her this week. Baptism is not the end. This gospel is a gospel of progression and I am so grateful for that.

I have seen miracles these last couple of weeks first with Alexandru and now with Mercy, and we will continue to see miracles. The Lord has his own time. Sometimes, I do not agree with his timing but I am so grateful that He is the one directing my life because I have got no clue what I am doing. Our Father in Heaven knows what is best. That means those hard things that we go through are what we need. God gives us mountains to climb because He needs us to be at the top. We are his servants and whatever He requires of us will be paid back a million fold. This church is true, through the authority of God we can be with our families FOREVER none of this "till death do we part stuff" Families are eternal. Don't take it from me, ask.

Love you all!
Sora Armstrong

June 1st Letter

This week was INSANE!!!!!! First Alexandru got BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!! I cannot describe the spirit that was there. Alexandru has overcome so much to get to this point even the day of he was getting texts trying to persuade him not to get baptized. But he bore it all. Very gracefully, never once have I heard him complain about the sacrifices he has made for the gospel. He completely left his old life behind, including his job, and basically all of his friends for this gospel. It has been an incredible journey with him and it is not over! Next stop: temple! The baptism was beautiful we met with him every single day this week making sure he was ready and in every lesson he bore the most incredible testimony. He also said some of the most beautiful prayers I have ever hear. In one of them he thanked God for the power that God had given him to allow him to enter onto his team. I loved the way that he phrased it, baptism is simply us entering onto the Lord's team. Alexandru asked me to give the talk on baptism so that was fun. It was in Romanian, and a lot of the vocab used for baptism is very tricky so I had some solid language study this week, the Lord is literally blessing me in all aspects of my life with now. Georgetta made me give her my talk to read before the baptism so that she could correct it.She came early to make sure everything was set up and her joy was just describable she felt the water to make sure it wasn't too cold made us show her the baptism suit to make sure it was the right size, she had a little bag packed with towels and extra clothes. Then she just sat and just said how incredible this day was, it was so touching to just watch her. She has been 100% faithful for 10 years all the time just waiting for Alexandru to do this. Steve a convert of about 2 months did the baptism and WOW it was so powerful. After when Alexandru received the Holy Ghost President Olteanu said in the blessing "the Lord knows the forces that you have had to overcome and he is so proud of you and he will continue to give you strength." In our lesson with him a couple days later Alexandru said that it felt like the power of heaven had come over him when he received the Holy Ghost. The day of the baptism was a little crazy we had to fill up the font with water and the hose was not working for a little bit so we just grabbed bottles and started taking the water from the sink in the kitchen to the font in the next room to fill it up but we finally got the hose going. Then we had to go print the programs for the baptism and buy some flowers to decorate. We were basically running around crazy so when the actual baptism started there was this incredible feeling of peace.
So yeah that was ridiculously awesome. Then we had district conference on Sunday. BIG things are coming to Romania. They changed the district presidency which is kind of equivalent to a stake presidency. President Constantinescu got made District President. He is amazing. He talked about how as members we need to stop gossiping, THERE IS NO PLACE for that stuff in the church. (Mercy loved that part of the talk) He talked about how we need to put the church on the map here in Romania. At the beginning of the meeting a bunch of families sang I am a child of God and it was so COOL! The church is GROWING here. I am so grateful that I get to be apart of it. With the incredible leaders and members that we have MIRACLES will happen in Romania. We will have stakes here! There was such a feeling of hope in the meeting it was so sick. We heard from Elder Reina an area 70 from Spain. He shared the story of his conversion and then he talked about the biggest problem that the church has is keeping our members active. He talked about how every one of us goes inactive everyday when we stop aligning our lives with Christ. It was a really cool concept that I have never thought about.
So my challenge to you is to STAY ACTIVE this week. Let me know how you do it! Constantly be looking to serve the Lord, Elder Reina talked about coming early to church and be ready to get something out of it. He also talked about honoring and fulfilling our callings. Alright my humans there is my provacare for the week!
Hope to hear from y'all!
Sora Armstrong